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  • Busted at the Post Office

    Posted by Jonathan on September 19th, 2011 (All posts by )

    Waiting in line a few months ago to pick up a package, I snapped a couple of photos. A postal employee noticed me doing this and said (I am paraphrasing from imperfect memory the exchange that follows), “You took a picture”. I said yes. She said, You can’t take pictures in the post office. I shrugged. She called over another lady whom she identified as a supervisor.

    The supervisor said, You can’t take pictures in the post office. I said I wasn’t aware of such a rule and it’s a public place. She said photography is against the law in federal buildings. I knew this couldn’t be true but there wasn’t much to gain by arguing. The ladies were very stern and I thought their reaction excessive. My assumption in such situations is that something else is probably going on. Maybe they don’t want a picture going up on the Internet that shows postal employees talking on the phone or whatever. Someone could get into trouble. But I don’t know. Anyway, I was pretty sure I hadn’t done anything wrong and I didn’t know what they wanted me to do. I didn’t feel like hanging around but I was still waiting for my package. At this point the supervisor called her supervisor.

    The second supervisor said, You can’t take pictures in the post office. I said something like, I’m not trying to give you a hard time but are you aware of a specific rule against taking photos? He said he wasn’t aware of a specific rule but he was sure it was in the postal regulations.

    Somewhere around this time the first supervisor retrieved my package and said I could have it but only if I deleted the photos I had taken. I said, I can’t do that. The postal employees conferred among themselves. After a minute they brought me my package. Before I signed for it the top supervisor made a point of copying my name and address from the package label and said he was going to forward my info to the postal inspectors. I said, You can do that, and signed for the package.

    As I turned to leave I noticed that a line of customers had formed behind me during the surreal interaction that had occupied me and three postal employees for something like ten minutes.

    Post office customers in Miami, Florida. (Jonathan Gewirtz)

    Buy Image

    Cross posted at Jonathan’s Photoblog.

     

    74 Responses to “Busted at the Post Office”

    1. Carl from Chicago Says:

      That’s strange.

      I have been stopped from taking photos in the Merchandise Mart.

      Also at the newly remodeled Bloomingdales that used to be a Shriners’ circus here in River North.

      I usually just move on, too.

    2. renminbi Says:

      May I make a guess that they were members of an ethnic group that sees themselves as victims?

    3. Lexington Green Says:

      This really needs to stop. The government must be subject to unremitting scrutiny.

    4. Jonathan Says:

      Renminbi: They were white and black.

    5. Bill Brandt Says:

      Probably has something to do with the new terrorism rules 0- I remember taking a picture onb Wall St that just happened to have 2 cops in front – they gave me hell.

    6. Jonathan Says:

      Carl: A private property owner can ask you not to take photos. It’s his property and his rules. But public property is a different matter. After the incident I described, I checked postal regulations online. Maybe I overlooked something but the only possibly relevant stipulation I found was that a postmaster has discretion about the rules at his post office. However, I saw no signs mentioning photography at this post office. Nor have I ever seen such a sign at any other post office. You would think they would post a “no photography” sign if they really cared about this issue. But why would they care? It’s not like it’s a military base. I have taken photos while waiting in line in the lobby at a post office that I visit regularly and nobody cared. I’m guessing that in this case the fact that I was not a familiar face set off some kind of instinctive bureaucratic self-preservation alarm. Of course the behavior of the employees was inappropriate in any event.

    7. Purpleslog Says:

      Fuck USPS. Shut it down and outsource it. I complained last December about my local carrier not delivering some packages. For payback, the local Post Office stopped all deliveries to me. After trying to work the system and failing, I had to get a mail box at a private mail service and get my addresses changed and forwarded to it. So fuck USPS. I look forward to their not-so-future demise.

    8. Purpleslog Says:

      Sorry for the swearing. You can XXXX that out if you want.

    9. Nathaniel Lauterbach Says:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hox-ni8geIw&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    10. knirirr Says:

      Harassment of photographers is a problem in the UK as well, and some photographers have provided handy guides in case one is accosted. From what I’ve heard, police officers are alleged to often be ignorant of the details of the law.

      I’ve encountered other situations where bureaucrats are convinced that something is illegal but have no idea of the actual law. I don’t expect them to be able to cite a particular act of parliament (or whatever), but they should be able to refer to a rulebook if challenged. Perhaps their default when faced with something they don’t like is to claim it’s illegal because they instinctively think it should be if they don’t like it.

    11. Dan from Madison Says:

      I am with Purpleslog. I look forward to their demise with great relish. I have a lot of stories about ridiculous postal carriers at my place of business but don’t want to a)hijack the thread and b) bore everyone to tears.

    12. Tatyana Says:

      Like Dan, I have many stories (in fact, even few posts I’ve written) on the subject of USPS employees conduct, but telling them now would be besides the point.

      Jon, when you talk about there not being a “no photography” signs in view, you are giving them ideas. Have you ever counted, as a matter of passing time in queue, all the signs they have stuck on the walls in postal office? and the amusing prevalence of “prohibited” among them?
      Bureaucrats are thriving on prohibition. Knowing they have power to prohibit something are almost more valuable to them than their (not inconsiderable) benefits and guaranteed salaries.

    13. Roy Says:

      By way of utterly agreeing with Lex Green’s “This has to stop”, I note a means of accomplishing that end. Educating those who would abuse authority, specifically using gentle, behaved confrontation to accomplish that education. Ie, taking pics of police, of post offices, of public buildings, politely demanding those who would squelch liberty realize they operate in violation of law (even to the extent that they could loose personal wealth for their behavior). For an excellent, experienced source, see “Photography is not a crime” at this link:
      http://www.pixiq.com/contributors/248

    14. Paul Milenkovic Says:

      Hello, Jerry!

      Hel-lo . . . Newww-mannn!

    15. Jonathan Says:

      One problem with being an employee in a unionized bureaucracy is that the bureaucracy won’t fire anybody except under the most egregious circumstances and probably then only after lengthy proceedings. A decent person working in such a system has strong incentives not to say or do anything that might put him in the bad graces of any troublesome coworkers he may have. He knows that he will have to work beside such people for a long time. He also knows that while the bureaucracy probably won’t discipline employees for providing bad service it may victimize them if they make trouble within the system. So you get situations where employees are rude or incompetent, or where they abuse customers by enforcing silly rules that may or may not exist, and nobody does anything about it. It happens in private bureaucracies too, but private companies tend eventually to go out of business if they provide poor service.

      It’s interesting to compare the post office and the primary educational system. There’s a theory that competition from private schools will cause public schools to improve. The post office has plenty of private competition (even with First Class mail, for which the competition is email and fax) yet its service remains poor.

    16. Paul Milenkovic Says:

      Um, you can take the picture alright, but can you slap your copyright notice across it? For example, drawings in patents are pointedly not covered by copyright, but they are property of the United States Patent Office of the United States Department of Commerce. You can use such drawings freely, but you have to accompany them with the preceding notice of ownership — I used such a drawing this year in a scientific journal article in that manner.

      As a patriotic citizen, I am claiming his photo as property of the United States Postal Service. I hereby and politely request that you take down your copyright notice.

    17. Jonathan Says:

      Um, you can take the picture alright, but can you slap your copyright notice across it?

      Yes.

    18. tehag Says:

      The last few solutions to oppressive, officious bureaucracies in France and Russia didn’t work out all that well. But I’m willing to give it a go.

    19. TMLutas Says:

      I think that you should file a complaint with the postal inspectors. They threatened to withhold your mail if you did not destroy your personal property (your picture). They did not have the right to do that.

      The postal inspectors can be reached here:
      https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/contactUs/filecomplaint.aspx

    20. Dan from Madison Says:

      TM Lutas is right – that package had nothing to do with the photography incident. It was just being held hostage as reprisal.

    21. Paul Milenkovic Says:

      I think this thread is evidence that the Conservative/Libertarian/Right Blogosphere has “jumped the shark” by losing all sense of humor and any sense of perspective of the relative seriousness of different situations. Who is the last person to invoke “hostage taking” for something that wasn’t even remotely hostage taking? The earnestness meter is being pegged — what is this place, Whitehouse.gov?

      So a Postal Service official got pi$$y about someone taking a photo in “their” post office. The lines are long at DMV, and the sky is blue those times it isn’t cloudy or night time. Tell me what else is new.

    22. Jonathan Says:

      I probably should have filed a complaint, but I didn’t think to do it at the time and it’s probably too late now. This happened quite a few months ago and I don’t know if I can even identify the date when it happened.

    23. ElamBend Says:

      Were you at least talking like a pirate while this occurred? That could explain a lot.

    24. Paul Milenkovic Says:

      Jonathan Gewirtz:

      http://www.la.nrcs.usda.gov/about/CR_Posters/Weapons%20Title41.pdf

      Federal Property Management Regulations Title 41 Code of Federal Regulations Part 101-20.310: Photographs for news, advertising, or commercial purposes.

      “Photographs may be taken in space occupied by a tenant agency only with the consent of the occupying agency concerned. Except where security regulations apply or a Federal court order or rule prohibits it, photographs for news purposes may be taken in entrances, lobbies, foyers, corridors, or auditoriums when used for public meetings. Subject to the foregoing prohibitions, photographs for advertising and commercial purposes may be taken only with written permission of an authorized official of the agency occupying the space where the photographs are to be taken.”

      Where you took the picture may or may not pass the lobbies, foyers, corridors, or auditoriums test. It didn’t pass the public meeting test as the post office was simply conducting regular business there. The postal employees may not have had the right to threaten to withhold your mail — they probably should have called the cops on you right away.

      I see you have a button up to purchase the photo in question. This is just advice for what it is worth, but I am thinking discretion is the better part of political courage, and you may want to consider taking that photo down or maybe even this thread before it attracts further attention.

    25. Choey Says:

      Years ago my company did a project for the Postal Service that necessitated us taking some photos of the PO physical plant and the layout of some machines. We were informed that it was OK to photograph the physical building and machines but it was illegal to photograph the actual mail.

    26. Glen Harness Says:

      So, when are all you folks who want to get rid of the Post Office going to suggest a constitutional amendment to do that? The Constitution requires a post office…

    27. Surellin Says:

      There seems to be quite a lot of this “War on Photography”, as Instapundit refers to it. Heh, may I suggest organizing flashmobs to take pics under circumstances that, 1). are entirely legal, and 2). would annoy some apparachiks? What happens when twenty people simultaneously pull out the ol’ phone and start clicking? My guess would be mental meltdown on the part of some petty tyrants. We really need to desensitize the poor dears, nationwide.

    28. Paul Milenkovic Says:

      Glen:

      How do you expect us to know what is in the Constitution when we can’t even use Google to find what is in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFRs)?

    29. Robert Says:

      I’m a professional photographer. I once went shopping at Fabricland for cloth that I could use as a background and took a pic of a sample to see how it would read on camera. From the reaction of the staff you would have thought I had snapped a picture inside Los Alamos or the Skunkworks.

    30. Batton Lash Says:

      I was taking photos of buildings in downtown Brooklyn for reference (I’m a commercial artist) and a cop told me- in no uncertain terms- that I couldn’t photograph public buildings. But photos of the very same buildings are available on Google! Which end is up?

    31. Phil Says:

      @Glen Harness,

      The Constitution does NOT require a post office. It says Congress can create one if they choose.

    32. Paul Milenkovic Says:

      Seinfeld Episode: The Junk Mail

      http://www.seinfeldscripts.com/TheJunkMail.htm

      I think there was a Seinfeld Episode about this. It wasn’t pretty.

    33. Paul Milenkovic Says:

      “1). are entirely legal, and ”

      Well, therrrre you go!

    34. Mrs. Davis Says:

      The post office is in the process of self destructing so we won’t need a constitutional amendment. These people will be out of a job within two years, so they’re likely to be testy in the meantime. In the future, use UPS or FedEx for packages. They know you can switch to the other guy next time.

    35. PacRim Jim Says:

      …people of the government, by the government, and for the government…

    36. shortwave8669 Says:

      Bye bye USPS. We can all think of similar negative experiences with the entitled and previously govt supported mail service.

      Wisest thing Congress ever did was require the USPS to pre-pay for their health and pension benefits. If only other govt pensions had been pre-paid.

      Bad service limits the sympathy of your “customers.”

    37. Matt Says:

      The USPS is nothing more than a meatspace botnet. Why are there laws against internet spammers, but not the post office ?

    38. annie Says:

      Surellin, flash mobs of photographers – a wonderful idea! I’d participate.

    39. Greg Q Says:

      You needed to ask each person to state, in writing, with their employee number and signature, there claim. If they refuse, set your camera to record video, and record the conversation.

    40. John Says:

      Here’s a scavenger hunt for photographers — find and photograph postal employees sleeping and reading magazines in their trucks. The other day I spotted one parked at the back of the Scarsdale library lot (a regular hiding spot) and another in the back of a lot behind a strip mall in Greenburgh. Since the featherbedding rules negotiated by the union allow far more time to complete a route than it actually takes someone of average intelligence, competent postal employees have lots of time to kill. A friend who once worked at a post office told me that when he returned from his route at noon the first day, he was advised that he wasn’t supposed to be back until 3 pm. He didn’t make that mistake again.

    41. Bob_B Says:

      I’m with Paul, the only right thinker in the room. You guys are a bunch of terrorist wingnuts and clearly you’re hiding your nefarious schemes and distracting us from the real story with this Post Office diversion. Like you cared about your bourgeois package anyways! Fool! You didn’t even know why the Post Office won’t allow photos?! And you expected the Post Office to explain! HA! Like a cop should know the law… as if! You’re lucky you’re not in Guantanamo, RIGHT NOW, Pal!!

      The fact that you couldn’t Google the law while those nice Postal Employees were helping you shows what rude, arrogant, condescending ignorant, racist bastards you really are. It sure is a good thing that there’s fair-minded people like me to point out when unhinged psychopaths like all of you are getting out-of-control.

      Signed,
      Barack Obama

      /sarcasm

    42. comatus Says:

      Purpleslog, you are living proof of the maxim “We are indeed lucky to live in a nation of postal experts.” You’re not lying, exactly, but there’s a whole load of story you’ve edited out. Your right as a citizen, of course. Don’t expect anyone to believe you.

      Everybody get ready to laugh out loud, but the Postal Service has a lot of machinery, programs and systems that cost a lot of stamp money to design and develop. It’s the kind of stuff that, if a private corporation owned, would be under patent, copyright and security provisions. Yes, people have been caught trying to copy or steal that information — sometimes to interfere with mail or trick the system, sometimes to apply it to other industries. There’s quite a bit to postal work that does not meet your eye while you’re reading posters in the lobby.

      Phil is absolutely right: “Establish offices and roads” does not touch on delivery, processing, transport or staffing. There’s a lot of postal law, but only that one bit in the Constitution. USPS uses many contractors, FedEx among them.

    43. Dan from Madison Says:

      Dan from Madison: “TM Lutas is right – that package had nothing to do with the photography incident. It was just being held hostage as reprisal.”

      Paul Milenkovic: “I think this thread is evidence that the Conservative/Libertarian/Right Blogosphere has “jumped the shark” by losing all sense of humor and any sense of perspective of the relative seriousness of different situations. Who is the last person to invoke “hostage taking” for something that wasn’t even remotely hostage taking?”

      Honestly Paul, what on earth are you talking about? The fact that I used the word hostage doesn’t mean I actually likened this to a situation where humans were being held hostage. For all I know it was a package of some more of Jonathan’s outstanding footwear. And of course you know that I wasn’t trying to liken this to the Munich Olympics or some other horrible ACTUAL hostage taking episode. But whatever.

      On a more serious note, that was Jonathan’s personal property and was paid for by someone to be transported from point a to point b. That box (or bundle or whatever) had nothing to do with the fact that the post office employees were wanting to enforce a no photography law. Whether the post office employees were correct or not (I suspect they were not) has absolutely nothing to do with that box. They did the right thing by handing it over.

    44. Jonathan Says:

      Paul Milenkovic: I wasn’t taking photos for advertising or commercial purposes. Commercial purposes doesn’t mean selling prints. I don’t think I was taking photos for news purposes either, though I suppose the term “news” could be interpreted so broadly as to include almost anything. If the management of that post office thought it was important to forbid photography they could have posted a sign, though I don’t see why they would care. If you think they should have called the cops on me you are nuts. What they could have done, if they thought I was breaking a rule, was to ask me politely to stop taking photos and tell me why taking photos was not allowed. Instead they tried to push me around and I think they broke a few rules themselves.

      For someone who lectures other people about perspective you seem to have little of it yourself.

    45. M Says:

      Yes, no photos. There is a poster in the lobby of most every post office that has the conduct allowed on the grounds — based on federal code. This includes no gambling, no alcohol, no weapons and no photos unless authorized media and/or approved by management (say, a student doing an essay on murals, for example). Image is brand and brand is money.

    46. Dan from Madison Says:

      No alcohol? So much for any more beer summits.

    47. Fred Says:

      It is illegal to take photos inside an IRS building, if they have a sign posted.

    48. Jonathan Says:

      Interesting. I’ll have to read the poster carefully the next time I am in a post office. I thought the prohibition was the typical one against commercial photography without permission. In any case it’s difficult to see what worthwhile purpose is served by forbidding casual photography in postal lobbies.

    49. rrr Says:

      I would think that since they took your information and will do who knows what with it, why not post the location of the post office?

    50. Rodeodoc Says:

      I don’t want to appear to be consorting with the enemy, but I feel a little sorry for the post office. Yes, their service sucks and yes, their employees are grossly overpaid and underworked. But every time some managment dude tries to cut costs or improve service, he gets his a$$ handed to him by some two bit politician from Butt Wipe, AR. Take Saturday delivery. Who cares if you don’t get mail on Saturday? You’ll get it on Monday. Apparently the three senior citizens in Butt Wipe, AR who never heard of automatic deposit and just have to have their pension check in their hot little hand care. The local political ditz will yell and scream that these pensioners are going to starve in the ditch because their check will be delayed a day. And why do we even need half the post offices in little hick towns across America? To give jobs to the flunkies of the same political hack. (And I was born and raised in one of those hick towns so know whereof I write). The biggest enemy of the post office are politicians. But then, that’s not news, is it?

    51. Paul Milenkovic Says:

      ” Commercial purposes doesn’t mean selling prints. ”

      War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

    52. Anonymous Says:

      “No photography in Federal Buildings?” Does that include the Jefferson & Lincoln Memorials, the Smithsonian, etc? I was a USPS letter-carrier in the late 1980s, making incredible money for walking all day but got out after 1 year because I saw: 1)the days of carrying ever-fewer letters and ever-increasing junk mail were not going to be a gravy train forever; 2) the union was doing everything it could to screw management; and 3) the management was in turn trying to screw the employees at every every opportunity. It was truly dysfunctional then, I can only imagine what it is like now with all the pressures in the public eye.

    53. Jonathan Says:

      War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

      Commercial use generally refers to advertising, promotional material and the like, not print sales.

    54. detroitjohn Says:

      Why is the strangest part of this story to me the fact that you were able to get service from three USPS employees at the record speed of ten minutes?

    55. JAL Says:

      @ rodeodoc Apparently the three senior citizens in Butt Wipe, AR who never heard of automatic deposit and just have to have their pension check in their hot little hand care.

      Social Security by mail is delivered the day before the due date (the 3rd for many of the older recipients) if the due date is Sunday or a holiday. SS will have to adjust the computers.

      Of course if someone dies the day after they get the check which isn’t due until the day after they die … People hate having to return that money.

    56. Steve2 Says:

      I… I don’t know exactly how to put this, sir, but are you aware of what a serious breach of security that would be? I mean, he’ll see everything, he’ll… he’ll see the Big Board!

    57. TMLutas Says:

      Upon further research, you might indeed have violated § 101-20.310 the penalty for which is laid out in § 101-20.315, $50 or 30 days in jail or both. The postal employees were, on the other hand, playing with 18 U.S.C. § 1703 which carries a 5 year prison term for the person detaining the mail and a 1 year term for anybody permitting the detention. If anybody were daft enough to let this get near a court, I suspect that negotiations would favor you being let off the hook in a negotiated settlement.

      All this legal analysis begs the question whether something like § 101-20.310 would ever pass 1st amendment muster. I do not know the answer to that but any finger wagging is a bit premature unless this reg has been already tested in court. The NYCLU is currently litigating a carbon copy regulation 41 C.F.R. § 102-74.420 in the case Antonio Musumeci v The United States Department of Homeland Security; The Federal Protective Service; Inspector Clifford Barnes, of the Federal Protective Service; and John Doe, an unidentified federal agent. I would expect that if that plays out in favor of photography, the near twin 41 C.F.R. § 101-20.310 would also fall.

    58. Paul Milenkovic Says:

      “Upon further research, you might indeed have violated § 101-20.310 the penalty for which is laid out in § 101-20.315, $50 or 30 days in jail or both. The postal employees were, on the other hand, playing with 18 U.S.C. § 1703 which carries a 5 year prison term for the person detaining the mail and a 1 year term for anybody permitting the detention. If anybody were daft enough to let this get near a court, I suspect that negotiations would favor you being let off the hook in a negotiated settlement.”

      The police “have me” for going 50 MPH over and blowing a .25 that means jail time, but I have them on violating my Federal Civil Rights, which means Federal prison? Yeah, that all “went down” that way for Mr. Rodney King, but that is not the usual way it works in most cases most of the time. Really.

      This site is titled “Chicagoboyz” after the idea of free markets and equal protection under the law as advancing the cause of liberty and prosperity promulgated by prominent scholars at the University of Chicago, and that is why I was drawn to this Web site in the first place.

      But it has turned into a gathering place for an HVAC installer to proclaim the United States Postal Service to be redundant on account of a couple of employees getting snippy over a Federal regulation? You have a non-mail way of sending billing invoices and receiving payment checks, Dan? Again, as to why I hang around this site, I am 100% in agreement about the stupid regs on refrigerant and as a result of your remarks on the need for higher system pressures and much tighter workmanship to avoid leaks, I dread the day when I have to switch my A/C over to the touted “Puron.” I now dread that day both from what Dan has told me as well as my personal experience with A/C techs in the Madison area on their ability to chase leaks.

      Where the Libertarian/Conservative/Right Blogosphere seems to have jumped the shark for me, and it is not just here, Glenn Reynolds, Rand Simberg, and everyone else is party to this, is that folks have turned their struggle against the ultra-left stuff coming out of the Obama Administration into an unrestricted war on public employees in all forms, in all places, and under all conditions. There just might be PSE’s out there who agree with Dan on the evils of Puron, and there may be some “working stiffs” out there who chafe under compulsory union dues and the nonsense coming out of their union. But our side is now demonizing of anyone who works for the gummint, much as the left-wing demonizes “the rich” or anyone who seeks to become rich or anyone who saves or invests and will be labeled as rich when inflation catches up with their meager nest egg — remember the AMT? As a consequence, we are pretty much reading out of the movement anyone who works for government in any capacity — I guess such people are regarded as enemy collaborators because we are in a kind of war, aren’t we?

    59. Lexington Green Says:

      Public employees are not the enemy. However their pay, benefits and especially pensions need to be benchmarked to reasonably equivalent private sector compensation. As it is, the unfunded pension benefits are a disaster in Illinois and in several other states. An attempt to do some pushback on compensation in Wisconsin led to the public employees unions and their allies responding with a “warlike” response, vilifying the politicians who were elected to deal with the problem, and attempting to use intimidation to reverse the result of an election. Further confrontations are inevitable. The public school system needs to change, and there will be angry opposition to that as well. The rancor seems to run mainly from the public employees and their unions and their allies against taxpayers who are insisting on controlling spending, which it is their right and duty to do. So, the imputation of some kind of unreasoning hatred to the Right in general, or this blog’s participants in particular, is misplaced.

      As to the Post Office, it is not going to change, or not much, and it is not going to go away. One reform that would be helpful would to eliminate the paper spam that we get daily — subsidized junk mail. As a loss-leading entity that guarantees delivery of official messages, such as government and legal messages, especially to ill-served and remote locations, that cannot be served profitably, it has a place. It could probably be made more efficient if it were trimmed back to a smaller mission along those lines. There is no way it could be privatized. All of the profitable business has been stripped out long ago.

    60. Dan from Madison Says:

      Paul Milenkovic – “But it has turned into a gathering place for an HVAC installer to proclaim the United States Postal Service to be redundant on account of a couple of employees getting snippy over a Federal regulation? You have a non-mail way of sending billing invoices and receiving payment checks, Dan?”

      1) I am not an HVAC installer.
      2) I don’t proclaim the USPS to be redundant on account of this single episode. I proclaim the USPS to be redundant just because I think that the private sector can do it better.
      3) Yes, I have a non-mail way of sending billing invoices and receiving payment checks. I use it every single day. It paid for itself in less than one year just from postage savings alone.

    61. David Foster Says:

      PaulM….”You have a non-mail way of sending billing invoices and receiving payment checks, Dan? ”

      Some businesses (and government agencies) have been sending invoices electronically, and in some cases receiving payment the same way, for more than 20 years. With further declines in the reliability of the postal service I would expect a lot more of this.

      I agree that we shouldn’t demonize government employees. My state DMV actually does a pretty decent job of customer service; better than certain companies. Air traffic controllers do a very difficult job and generally do it quite well. A lot of useful research gets done at CDC and NIH.

      It should be possible to attack government waste, overreach, and misdirection without needlessly alienating all government employees.

    62. Paul Milenkovic Says:

      “So, the imputation of some kind of unreasoning hatred to the Right in general, or this blog’s participants in particular, is misplaced.”

      The Left has long been characterized by a scolding tone. I remember it as if it were yesterday, where my Momma, with an immigrant accent as thick as the day is long, approached Congressman Abner Mikva at the end of a town hall meeting, to express support for the principles of racial equality but to voice skepticism whether placing urban children on long schoolbus rides was the optimum solution, either from the standpoint of achieving integration or boosting academic performance. Before the Congressman (and later Federal judge, and much later than that lawyer to President Clinton) could utter a word, one of this supporters started castigating my Mom for not having the correct beliefs on this controversial subject.

      I will never forget to my dying day the strained look on Mr. Mikva’s face as he couldn’t get a word in edgewise. Congressman Mikva I am sure had his beliefs and positions on the controversial issue of school busing, but as a seasoned political office holder from what was then a swing district (he lost his seat to regain it later in a rematch), he was willing to engage Momma on this issue without alienating her, something he could not get his over-enthusiastic supporter to do and much to his personal discomfort and dismay.

      I am observing that most of my adult life, the Conservative/Libertarian William F Buckley inspired Fusion movement has largely been on the outside looking in and never could afford the kind of arrogance that is a hallmark of the Left. I am observing that with the perception of 2012 being an even bigger shift than 2010, that the Right is taking on some of the, ahem, prerogatives of success that the Left has long partaken of. The Right hasn’t been anywhere near the levers of power since the Reagan years, and maybe the Reagan years of huge deficits and still-expanding government maybe don’t really count as fulfilling the vision.

      Glenn Reynolds has this expression (borrowed from George Lucas) “Don’t get cocky (about the prospect for victory in 2010, 2012, etc.)” In my own way, I have been attempting to reason that the Conservative/Libertarian/Right Blogosphere is indeed getting cocky, and for that I am disrespecting the Right for some kind of hatred?

      Look people, I am not Congressman Mikva, I am not the gung-ho campaign worker, I am the son of the immigrant lady with the thick accent who is perhaps deviating slightly from the strict party line. The question is whether you want my vote in November 12 or you don’t. I am not asking anyone to bow before me and kiss my ring; I am just asking people to listen whether the hard line some people are taking will have the desired effect on hearts and minds in the coming election.

    63. Paul Milenkovic Says:

      If I may add one more thing, the original post was about one of the ChicagoBoyz contributors had been disrespected by a pair of Postal Service employees for what turned out to be a possible violation of a Federal regulation by that contributor.

      The no-photos rule in a post office rule may be silly. The attempt to enforce that rule by the two employees may have been clumsy. Our esteemed ChicagoBoyz contributor may have acted in a way informed by a particular belief system regarding the rights of citizens and the inappropriateness of postal workers to challenge him about taking pictures.

      But there was a piling on taking place here, about “How dare those Federal workers challenge our dear contributor!” “They broke the law when they didn’t give Jonathan his mail!” and “The Post Office is going broke and they need to go broke faster!” and “This is all because those workers have job security and union pensions!”

      This dustup regarding a no-photos rule in Federal work places is completely tangential and gratuitous to the object of electing a Congress and President who will undo the damage done in the last few years. I try humor with regard to bringing this out (the Seinfeld references to Newman the Postal Worker and the episode Junk Mail, where Kramer wanting to “opt out” of junk mail leads him to be subject to an Orwellian Secret Postal Police). I try reference to the law, that yes, taking photos inside a post office are proscribed. I try snark, but I guess that doesn’t become me or anyone else. I try more sober reasoning, and I get the Abner Mikva campaign worker workover.

    64. Tatyana Says:

      Paul, maybe you have been trying too hard?

    65. Lexington Green Says:

      Paul, dude, don’t invest too much personal energy in a comment on a blog. This whole blog is just a conversation. Sometimes it is interesting or funny or informative or irritating, or thought-provoking, or totally wrong and stupid (hardly ever that, maybe never!), but it is after all just a conversation. None of the presidential candidates look to our blog for guidance, or anything like that. Say what you want, and don’t worry too much about it. Everyone who is reasonably polite, which you are, gets their say around here. Plus, as we all know, people always kvetch about the Post Office. It is a national tradition. All is well.

    66. Steve Says:

      @Paul Milenkovic,

      Applicability (41 CFR 101-20.300) These rules and regulations apply to all property under the charge and control of the General Services Administration and to all persons entering in or on such property. Each occupant agency shall be responsible for the observance of these rules and regulations.

      My local post office is not owned or leased by GSA:
      http://www.iolp.gsa.gov/iolp/NationalMap.asp

      As someone once said, “How do you expect us to know what is in the Constitution when we can’t even use Google to find what is in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFRs)?”

      On another not, how long have you worked at the post office? Is your break almost over?

    67. TMLutas Says:

      Paul – The “no photography” rule in a public space where the public is allowed to enter as a matter of course (not the back room operations) strikes some as unconstitutional overreach. Normally, you have notice for that sort of thing. One of the ways that you avoid people filing test cases is you don’t provide notice and you try to do enforcement through informal, deniable, extra-judicial threats. That’s not very american. It is, in fact, a recipe for training a subservient peasantry.

      You picked an example where generally everybody would agree that the conduct was illegal (massive speeding while drunk). But there is no such consensus here. The NYCLU is currently litigating the question of whether these laws are constitutional.

      If I might give you a counter-example, this is like getting “caught” for the crime of being white while drinking from the colored water fountain in the days of jim crow. Unless you want to defend the statute on substantive grounds (you think that people shouldn’t have the right to casual photography in a post office public space) let it go.

    68. One of these days Says:

      I grew up working for a living. Factory work then plumbing. When plumbing went bad I scored a mailman job. There are NO WORKERS in the USPS. It is a collect a check from the Taxpayer job. I couldn’t stretch out my time slow enough (so as not to make the turtles look bad) so i got bad rep from the Union, anyways I got fired. Easiest money I ever found.

    69. Jeff the Bobcat Says:

      I ask my friendly Postmaster about taking pictures at the Post Office and she said they have very strict regulations about confidentiality of addresses and also have been told multiple times to be wary of people taking pictures. You could be a criminal or terrorist making plans. She laughed when I told her of the long string of comments, but did say it is against their privacy policy.

      It is interesting that there are 68 comments to this subject, but just 1 or 2 for other subjects. I’m not sure what the disparity says about the readers of this blog. Lex is probably right in that most people complain about Postal Workers.

      I will say that I am lucky to have access to our small town Post Office where the Postmaster is the only full time employee. She takes great pride in her work and knowing the needs of her customers. Do you think the corporate climate in the larger, less personal Post Offices just beats the humanity out of Postal workers?

    70. Lexington Green Says:

      “I’m not sure what the disparity says about the readers of this blog.”

      This post got an Instapundit link. That means that immensely more people looked at this post, far more than the blogs usual readers, which is what happens when we are blessed with an Instapundit link. That is why there were so may comments, not some special obsession of our readers. Instapundit probably linked to it because he has lately been focusing on attempts to limit or prevent photography in public places, and opposing those limitations.

    71. Greg Says:

      Poor service yes sometimes… is it the carriers or clerks fault… sometimes…. but come on you get what you pay for… take a letter and drive only across town and back and tell me how much you spend on gas. Does the Post office have Unions…. yes… but they do not have the right to strike… and if there were no Unions then the Post Office would have college kids working at minimum wage… and what kind of servie do you think you would get then..really think about it.. as far as no photography, well it is a government office duh… I mean you do not have to be a intellectual scholar to know that every government building is a target or did you forget we are at war… oh wait your probally against that too…. maybe you should move to like Mexico…. where you may or may not get mail…. sorry but people who complain are the useless one’s….

    72. Carl from Chicago Says:

      I can’t believe that there are 71 comments on this post… I guess big movements start from small events.

      Did you hear the one about the vegetable vendor in Tunisia that set himself on fire? I heard it started a revolution throughout the Arab world.

    73. Jeff the Bobcat Says:

      Lex thanks for the explanation. I did not know that about posts and cross-links. Frequesntly, I find the comments to be as interesting as the original blog and what is responded to is almost as intersting as the comments being made. I often find it very surprising what issues or events moves people to make a response.

    74. Jeff the Bobcat Says:

      Whoa. Bad spelling….sorry.